2008-07-25 20:01:48 GMT 2008-07-26 04:01:48 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
UNITED NATIONS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations launched on Friday a 33.5-million-U.S.-dollar appeal for early recovery support to assist victims of the May 12 earthquake that hit Wenchuan county in southwestern China.
The funding focuses on eight sectors -- livelihoods (7.5 million), shelter (2.9 million), water and sanitation (3.3 million), health (6.3 million), education (2.5 million), protection of vulnerable groups (3.2 million), environment (5.7 million) and ethnic minorities (1.6 million).
This appeal is only the first step in the United Nations' medium to longer term assistance plan for the earthquake-affected areas, said a UN statement.
The appeal, which will be used to meet sector-specific needs from July to December 2008, will be followed by a package for reconstruction assistance in support of the Chinese government's reconstruction plan.
Its emphasis is to support local economic and social recovery by providing people with resources to rebuild their lives and help them recover from the losses inflicted by the earthquake.
A strong partnership with the international community will provide needed resources for the UN system in China to help meet the urgent early recovery needs of the victims of the Wenchuan earthquake, the statement said.
Speaking at the launch at the UN Headquarters in New York, Kemal Dervis, administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP), commended the Chinese government for its strong and swift reaction in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
Dervis said that the UN has shown its support for the Chinese victims in many ways, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon's visit to the epicenter of the earthquake, 8 million dollars from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and another 9 million dollars it collected from other sources.
"Now comes the next phase -- the early recovery phase and longer term reconstruction phase," Dervis said. "Reconstruction sometimes is an opportunity for building things better for strengthening the future of the communities."
Khalid Malik, UN resident coordinator in China, said that he was impressed by the "unprecedented response" from the Chinese government and the civil society in their relief efforts.
"Ten weeks past, the most pressing needs -- shelter, water, food and clothing -- have largely been met," Malik said. "More comprehensive support is needed over the next six months to help people rebuild their lives before reconstruction gets underway."
By providing assistance in the reconstruction process, the international community will have an opportunity to help the Chinese people build low-carbon economies, sustainable cities and clean industries, Malik said.
On behalf of the Chinese government, China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya, thanked the UN system and the international community for the humanitarian assistance they have provided to China.
China has received assistance from about 170 countries and more than 20 international and regional organizations, Wang said.
China appreciates the launch of the appeal for early recovery support to assist Wenchuan earthquake victims "as a complement and support to the massive post-disaster reconstruction efforts in China," Wang said.
"China will work closely with the United Nations to make the best use of the UN assistance in the post-quake recovery and reconstruction process," he stressed.
In their respective remarks, representatives from Japan, Pakistan, Vietnam, France, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Finland, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan expressed their condolences and sympathies to the quake victims and promised solidarity and assistance to the Chinese people and government in the post-quake reconstruction process.
As of July 17, the 8.0 magnitude earthquake has killed nearly 70,000 people, left 18,237 people missing, over 370,000 people injured and nearly 8 million houses collapsed. The affected areas covered 440,000 square kilometers, involving 417 counties in 10 provinces or municipalities.
According to the Chinese government, reconstruction could take as long as three years during which permanent structures must be rebuilt, livelihoods and basic services restored, collapsed schools and hospitals reconstructed and roads repaired.